Expanding union monopoly privileges and the welfare state is a full-time job, especially when it comes to electing political candidates committed to advancing these causes. The AFL-CIO, never late to rise, is getting an early jump for 2016. For the last few months, federation President Richard Trumka has touted freshman Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., a Left-populist, as presidential material. The federation has yet to issue a formal endorsement. And the senator has denied plans to run. Yet she could be persuaded to change her plans. The push for Warren is part of a larger effort to identify “pro-worker” candidates who support dramatic hikes in the minimum wage. “That’s the stick we’ll use to measure every candidate,” Trumka said at an AFL-CIO executive board meeting in Atlanta in late February.
Labor officials are about the last people to be impressed by evidence that hiking the minimum wage drives up entry-level unemployment. These last several weeks they've been putting words into action in targeting fast food restaurants. Unions, led by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), are retooling their campaign to establish a $15 an hour minimum wage for fast food employees, more than double the current $7.25 an hour basic federal minimum. Hundreds of protestors, though not necessarily union members, were arrested for blocking traffic on Labor Day. President Obama voiced his approval of the campaign that day in a speech. And the SEIU has called for a nationwide strike.
If sunshine is the best antidote to corruption, then Senator John Thune, R-S.D. (in photo), must be opening a lot of windows. Last Wednesday, July 30, Sen. Thune unveiled the Union Transparency and Accountability Act (S. 2688), a measure that would require greater transparency in the information labor organizations report to the Department of Labor. The bill would improve detection of misuse of funds, especially by union officials and benefit fund trustees. Thune explained his discontent over President Obama's approach: "I hope my colleagues join me in supporting my bill to put an end to the administration's political favoritism and restore transparency to union finances. Union members deserve to know how their dues are being spent." The legislation effectively would restore three finalized rules shelved by the DOL in 2009.
The recognized leader of the demonstration is the president of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Rev. William Barber (in photo, on right), who recently received national media attention for his remark that black conservatives – such as South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott – are “ventriloquists’ dummies” for the Tea Party. Barber last year conducted a series of “Moral Mondays” protests in the state capital against changes in state law that lowered taxes and limited the growth of government.
Though union membership as a share of American workers continues its long decline, union officials in 2013 showed they're not the sort to stand on the sidelines, especially in the legal realm. Organized labor was unusually active last year in using the courts and Congress to press their interests. Their ultimate weapon: immigration amnesty/surge legislation. Eight members of the Senate, four from each party ("the Gang of Eight"), solicited advice exclusively from supporters of open borders in hopes of achieving their idea of "comprehensive reform." The Senators unveiled the measure in April and passed it by 68-32 in June, Yet the bill, deservedly, has stalled in the House. Drafted in secret, with no hearings or debate, it represents a corruption of the political process.
Organized labor doesn't waste too many opportunities when it comes to promoting illegal immigration. For over a dozen years, in fact, the AFL-CIO has made it official policy to support the granting of amnesty to persons living illegally here. But with the House of Representatives unlikely to follow the Senate's lead in passing immigration amnesty/surge legislation, unions are drawing ever closer to "day laborer" radical nonprofit groups in hopes of persuading legislators to come around. The best-known of these is the Los Angeles-based National Day Laborer Organizing Network, or NDLON.
Thomas Perez is the nation's newest Secretary of Labor. And given his track record of political radicalism, this ought to be more than a little troubling. Perez insists he will be even-handed in his enforcement of the law. That commitment is getting an early test. On July 23, the day of Perez's swearing-in ceremony, two key House Republicans, John Kline (Minn.) and Phil Roe (Tenn.), wrote Perez a letter asking him to clarify the legal status of nonprofit 'worker centers' that are proliferating throughout the country. Because these nonunion organizations mimic the behavior of unions, the letter stated, they ought to be subject to laws that govern unions, especially with respect to financial disclosure.
"Comprehensive immigration reform," like virtually any initiative containing the magic word "comprehensive," looks good on the surface. But the details of the comprehensive immigration bill passed by the Senate in June by a 68-32 margin reveal much wrong underneath. Oblivious to this, top union leaders are gearing up for an all-out blitz this fall to secure passage of a similar bill in the Republican-majority House of Representatives. Led by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (in photo), they are obsessed with providing 11 million or more persons illegally in this country with amnesty and eventual citizenship, and with enabling millions of family members to come here to join them.
The AFL-CIO normally is quick to defend the interests of its 57 member unions. But the Washington, D.C.-based labor federation seems happy to make an exception in the case of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Council. And the reason lies with the union's objections to the new Senate proposal to grant amnesty to virtually all 11 million or more illegal immigrants and expand work visa availability. In its current form, argue council officials, the measure would hamstring ICE agents from protecting the public from dangerous criminals. Toward that end, Council President Chris Crane and nine other members last August filed suit against three top immigration officials in their carrying out of a June executive order by President Obama.